CAA + ELL = Outreach
by Jeremy New
As globalization and technology perpetually shrink our planet, parents whose native language is not English desire for their children to learn the language of the global market in hopes that their children will remain competitive and relevant as they enter the work force. This phenomenon has supercharged the business of English instruction, both abroad and at home. Though this climate has helped Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) launch their foreign exchange student program—otherwise known as the English language learning (ELL) program—their focus has proven to be ministry-based rather than a business opportunity.
Since the program’s inception three years ago, Columbia Adventist Academy has hosted between six and ten Japanese students each year for three month stints. Each exchange student who attends CAA enrolls in mainstream English, math, and science classes, but they also take two special ELL classes—a class focusing on academic English acquisition and an ELL Bible class that teaches the basic principles and beliefs of Christianity.
Abbey Ashton, a junior at CAA, has witnessed all three years of the foreign exchange program, and she has seen many positive relationships develop with the exchange students through the years. Personally she feels that “it is an outreach that [she] can do.” In fact, The CAA community as a whole has embraced the ELL program. Parents have opened up their homes, making the exchange students feel like family. The student body has befriended them, benefiting from a rich cultural exchange. The faculty and staff have worked tirelessly as a team to ensure academic success and meaningful language acquisition, and all have provided a warm, inviting environment, introducing Christ to young men and women who have never had the chance to meet Him before.
With each passing year, this ministry continues to grow and add new dimensions to the school. This year, for the first time, two students—Kenya and Yuki—are enrolled full time, earning credit for the whole school year. As the ELL program grows, the CAA community hopes to plant seeds deep in the heart of Asia without ever leaving the United States.